(p. B5) “Tesla is his baby,” said Deepak Ahuja, Tesla’s chief financial officer. “He takes it extremely personally.”
. . .
In preparing the assembly lines, Mr. Musk became convinced that the process should be close to fully automated, using robots rather than humans whenever possible. Doing so, he believed, could make cars move through the factory at one meter per second, 10 to 20 times the speed of existing lines.
So Tesla built a factory with hundreds of robots, many programmed to perform tasks that humans could easily do. One robot, which Mr. Musk nicknamed the “flufferbot,” was designed to simply place a sound-dampening piece of fiberglass atop the battery pack.
But the flufferbot never really worked. It would fail to pick up the fiberglass, or put it in the wrong place, frequently delaying production. It was eventually replaced by factory workers.
Mr. Musk has accepted responsibility for some of these missteps, occasionally with humor. In late June, he wore a T-shirt depicting a robot that passes butter. It was an inside joke, lampooning the notion of technology for technology’s sake.
After the debacle, Mr. Musk tweeted: “Excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.”
. . .
“He is absolutely working incredibly hard, but Elon has always worked incredibly hard,” said Mr. Ahuja, Tesla’s chief financial officer. “He’s very tough, too. He can eat glass.”
. . .
“I know that it has been a difficult year for him,” said Gwynne Shotwell, the SpaceX president and chief operating officer. “Not because he’s frowning or throwing things, but because I can tell he’s physically exhausted.”
For the full story, see:
David Gelles. “In Elon Musk’s World, Brakes Are for Cars, Not C.E.O.s.” The New York Times (Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018): B1 & B5.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 28, 2018, and has the title “MARSEILLE DISPATCH; Yes, There Is a French McDonald’s That Is Beloved (by Its Staff).”)